Author

Deborah Cruz

The Inconvenient Truth about Patrick Crusius, Guns and Racism in America, el Paso, Texas, gun control, mass shootings

I went to church this morning and I prayed for all of us. After the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas by Patrick Crusius that left 20 murdered in cold blood and dozens injured, I was feeling hopeless and then intense anger. A wave of anger that I haven’t felt since Sandyhook. It’s rage. If you’re indifferent to this violence or you’re not enraged enough to be motivated to act, why? Help me to understand your silence. Why are guns and racism still plaguing our nation? This is the inconvenient truth about Patrick Crusius, guns and racism in America.

At mass, I prayed for the families of all the people murdered this week by mass shooters. Yes, there was one every single day this week. Day after day, I got an alert on my phone and every day, I prayed. I prayed for all of you, to keep you safe. But the time for just praying has passed. We need action to protect our children.

READ ALSO: The Children of Sandyhook

As much as I love my country and my God, he can’t do everything. We’ve got to do our part. This keeps happening because we let it. We value our guns over other people’s lives. We have a million excuses why we should keep our guns, rather than change our behavior and save the lives of innocent people. Change is uncomfortable but isn’t the sacrifice worth it? People are hanging on to their guns like they’re their security blankets. They’re not.

For years, I’ve been clear on my stance on guns. I don’t like them. I hate them. They are dangerous because people are dangerous. People cannot be trusted to behave like responsible adults. They can’t be trusted to respect their fellow humans. People may pull the trigger but bullets from guns are what kill people. Those who allow this to keep happening are culpable. End of story.

READ ALSO: The Collateral Damage of Hate

I grew up with guns. Guns are for hunting and protecting, not killing and maiming the people you don’t like. You’re not allowed to grab your gun, take your sick mind full of hatred and anger and shoot at will. That’s not how this is supposed to work.

The right to bear arms was established at a time when we needed people to take up arms to defend our country against the enemy when we had no regulated or established military. The right to bear arms was not put into law to be used as a scapegoat for every low life lacking self-esteem and hating the world. Every prejudiced person with no friends should not be allowed to amass large quantities of ammunition and guns to shoot innocent people. Yes, innocent people.

READ ALSO: Zero Tolerance for Immigrants is Zero Tolerance for Humanity

Because a person is not like you, does not make them a criminal. Shopping at Walmart is not a criminal act. Attending a music festival should not mean gambling with your life. Going to church should not make you a sitting target and dancing and celebrating at a bar, should not mean that you are relinquishing your right to life. Our military fights abroad to keep us safe and free at home, not so crazed gunman can viciously murder us from within.

The real Inconvenient Truth about Patrick Crusius, Guns and Racism in America

I’ve been clear on my stance for years and I’ve prolifically called for us all to stand up for gun control for our children. I know that guns will never be banned but we need stricter control over who can get those guns, how many they can have at a time, how much ammunition they can buy, how those guns can be modified and where, when and why they can be used. There need to be consequences for breaking those mandates and a psychological evaluation made mandatory for every single person who wants to purchase a gun, of any kind, even a hunting rifle.

I’ve never minced my words but today, I am speechless. I am angry. I am disgusted and prayers are simply not enough. Yes, I too believe that through God all things are possible. I believe in the power of prayer but I also, firmly and absolutely, believe that God helps those who help themselves. We need to help ourselves. We need to take responsibility for our children’s safety by standing up for the right things. I don’t think any parent ever, under any circumstances, would choose a gun over their own child’s life under any conditions.

READ ALSO: Dear America

I am disgusted by all of these acts of domestic terrorism. But last night, when I read Patrick Crusius alleged hate-filled, anti-immigration manifesto, my anger hit a new level. It turned to rage. It spoke of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” It detailed a plan to separate America into territories by race. It warned that white people were being replaced by foreigners. Again, maybe this ignorant piece of racist garbage doesn’t know his history but Texas used to belong to Mexico. We were there first.

READ ALSO: What to do when Racism happens to your child

20 people were murdered on a Saturday morning and dozens injured for no other reason than Patrick Crusius was a small-minded, ignorant man, with a hate-filled heart who drove 10 hours to murder Mexicans. And he was able to do it because it’s so easy to get access to guns in the United States. A mother protecting her 2-month old son. Dead. An infant whose parents are left behind to live with the pain of the loss of a child. Dead. 18 more innocent people dead because this monster lives during a time where racism, bigotry and misogyny are not frowned upon but encouraged by our current state of affairs.

Patrick Crusius is only part of the problem. Guns and Racism in America are the disease.

How are we, any of us, but especially people of color supposed to feel safe when the color of our skin, our last names, the religion we follow is enough to make small men not only want to murder us but able to get a gun and do so?

We need good people, those who value all human life, who believe in freedom and equality in our country to stand up against the terrorists within our nation’s borders. Everyone is so focused on keeping the brown people out that you are locking us in with hate-fueled, narrow-minded, homegrown terrorists and giving them guns at will. How are any of us supposed to survive this?

 

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The Embarrassing Side Effect of Losing Weight that No one Tells You About

Today was an amazing day. 12 weeks after being diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure, I am 30.1 pounds down. I have lost an average of 2.5 pounds a week, every week since May 6th. I was ecstatic when I stepped on the scale and saw the number. Just 19 pounds from being in the 100’s again. Yes! However, for all of my joy and happiness with losing that weight, there was one thing I did not anticipate…my body is changing. Surprise, no one told me how to avoid loose skin when you lose weight fast and so all the changes are not to my liking.

I know, of course if you lose weight, your body will change. I’ve been pregnant before, I know the human body can do all kinds of things you never expected; stretching, giving and returning to (close to) its previous shape. I thought I was doing so well and then I saw the picture I took of myself at the pool the other day.

READ ALSO: Food’s an Addiction, Sugar’s a Drug and I was an Addict

No, I am not going to diminish all the hard work I’ve done. I started out at just nearly 250 on May 6th.  Since then, I’ve been carb counting, walking every day for 60-80 minutes and generally living a healthier and more aware lifestyle. I’m not perfect but with portion control, dedication to eating healthier and being aware of my carb intake, I’ve been moving the scale and bringing all my numbers down to where they are supposed to be.

It’s a choice every single morning to get up and just do it. I’m choosing me and my health. I’ve been full steam ahead, laser-focused on the goal of health. As long as the numbers are going down and the clothes are getting bigger, life is fabulous but I NEVER expected what I saw in that picture. I give you…the thighgina.

weight loss, lose weight fast, loose skin, thighgina, weight loss problems

Loose skin from weight loss = Thighgina

There I was standing proudly in my weight loss, in my bikini because I believe every single body is a bikini body, and there it was just standing there, blending in like a skeevy creeper, my brand spanking new FUPA meets a walrus vagina meets the sagging skin on my shrinking thighs. It was not fabulous or spectacular. When I saw it, I was mortified.

For the past 3 months, all summer, I’ve been walking around daydreaming of the day when I could shop in the regular size section and everything fits and nothing is tight or makes me look like I’m a sausage. That’s not me being mean, that’s me telling it like it is for me at 250 lbs. I was not even thinking about sagging skin or thighginas. But, that thighgina has been thinking about me. Just waiting until I hit that 30-pound mark to poke out his (yes, he’s a dude because a lady would not do that to another lady) sinister little head and say hello, at.the.pool.

READ ALSO: The Burden of Being Fat

But I refuse to let the thighgina win. Nope. Not today, thighgina. I’m going to persevere because where there is a will there is a way and I will rid you from my life. Oh yes, I will. So I’m on the hunt for all the best exercises for toning your inner thighs because thighgina will not stand. No, I am not in pursuit of a thigh gap. Been there, done that. Have the diagnosis to prove it. I firmly believe that thick thighs save lives…and iPhones from the toilet. But, thick thighs are not a thighgina. Folks, a thighgina is not pretty.

If you have any inner thigh exercises that you do to tone and have worked for you, please share them with me. I’m trying to tone all of my body as I go. I’m going the slow and steady route. I still have to lose 89 pounds to get to my optimal BMI weight of 130 pounds, or so they tell me. Today, I’m headed back to the pool and I’m taking my thighgina with me. I hope he enjoys it

Have you ever lost or gained a significant amount of weight? How did you mentally and physically adjust to all the changes your body went through?

What are your tips for how to avoid loose skin when you lose weight fast?

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Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Earlier this summer, we visited Portland Maine for the first time. I made of list of things to do in Portland Maine with teens and kids this summer. I fell in love with the state of Maine a few years ago on our first trip to Ogunquit and it’s been our summer New England vacation spot since. There is just something about Maine in the summertime that I find to be beyond quaint and charming. It is one of the most peaceful and relaxing vacations I’ve ever experienced.

Earlier this year, I was invited to visit Portland Maine and experience all that Portland has to offer but as many of you remember, I fell the week before I was supposed to fly out. I savagely dislocated my elbow and flying was not an option. Luckily, my family was headed to our annual Boston trip in June so I knew I had to get to Portland check it out.  I was not disappointed.

Disclosure: I was hosted by Visit Portland for some of this trip so that I could experience some of the local flavor of Portland Maine but all opinions are my own.

We stayed in our first ever Holiday Inn By the Bay. It was right in the heart of Portland with a breathtaking view of the Casco Bay from our rooms. Yes, rooms, for the first time ever we got adjoining rooms with the girls and, parents (if you haven’t tried this yet) GAME CHANGER!!!

READ ALSO: Everything You Need to Know about the Disney Dream Cruise

Here we were with this beautiful room, with a gorgeous view and the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in (and I’ve slept in a lot of hotels over the years through my travels) and my girls are safely right next door. We left the door open (mostly) but there was the option to close it. Best of all, no sharing the television or listening to bickering. It had to be one of the most relaxing stays we’ve ever had in a hotel.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Also, though we were only a short walking distance from old Portland ( a quaint and fun walking area full of shops and restaurants) the Holiday Inn Express offered free shuttle rides to and from any Portland area destinations we wanted to visit. Mostly we walked but having the option at night after dinner, when the girls were exhausted, to be picked up and taken back to our hotel was awesome. It was also nice to get that time to chat with the driver, a local, and get recommendations for places to eat and things to do. He was super helpful and kind, as were all the staff at the Holiday Inn Express.

Here is my list of things I think everyone who visits Portland Maine should check out

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Portland Schooner Sunset Sail

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

These schooners are a part of history and they are so quaint and charming. I had never been on one before. Seeing the sunset over the water is breathtaking. The crew is kind, engaging and entertaining. The ride is smooth and it’s hard not to feel relaxed and free on this sail. I recommend for anyone who wants to enjoy life and be present in the moment. You definitely don’t want to miss this moment. We went with our tween and teen girls, I would definitely suggest taking a small picnic to eat and if you want to make it a romantic evening with your favorite guy or lady bring along a cheese plate and some wine or champagne and watch the sunset with your favorite person.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Maine Duck Tours

So much awesome information and history. You get a complete historical tour of the entire town and bonus, you get to take a bus into the cove. My favorite part was learning all about Portland from our knowledgeable and good-humored tour guide. It was especially nice because it was our very first trip to Portland and we didn’t know a lot about the area. It was interactive and a lot of fun going through the town as the tour engaged with the people of the Portland. My only suggestion would be to make sure that you wear the provided life vests when you enter the cove as a safety measure in case of bad weather. The day we took our tour the weather was calm.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Portland Head Lighthouse

I love lighthouses. If I’m near a coast, you can be sure I’ll find the lighthouses. Cape Elizabeth is the home of Portland Head Light. Situated along the spectacular shores of Fort Williams Park. The Park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset. Aside from being cool to look at the Portland Head Lighthouse is surrounded by beautiful trails, cliffs and photo ops galore.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland MaineThe Holy Donut

Holy ish batman! Who knew potato donuts could be this delicious? Who knew there was such a thing as potato donuts? They are definitely worth the wait. They are delicious. If you ever find yourself in Portland Maine, you must get yourself a hoy donut. Your taste buds will thank you.

 

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

The Porthole Restaurant and Pub

Fish and Chips and live music. The staff is friendly and helpful. They have the best fish and chips I have ever tasted and on Friday nights, it’s bottomless fish and chips. Also, live music on most nights. We loved it so much we had it twice.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Becky’s Diner

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Maine blueberry pancakes and the charm of old Portland is what  I ordered and exactly what I got! Becky’s Diner was featured on Guy Fieri’s Diner’s, Drive-ins and Dives. I had heard that Becky’s was a local must and when I showed up, the line didn’t lie. Thankfully, the staff at Becky’s is not only great at making delicious food, they are on the ball. They have great personalities and know how to get people in and out of booths with great customer service.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Flatbread Company

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

I am a pizza connoisseur and the pizza at Flatbread Company is next level. Made with all organic and locally sourced ingredients, this is definitely farm to table pizza. And you can taste the difference. They know food and they put twists on old favorites that I was pleasantly surprised by. I am a green pepper on my pizza kind of gal. When I tried to order it, I was informed that there was no such thing available there but they do put red pepper on pizzas so I tried it. OMG, so much sweeter than regular green peppers. Took my pizza experience to a new level.  Also, they have a summer salad that is out of this world.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Gorgeous Gelato

Oh EMM GEEEE! My girls ( and the Big Guy and I) love ice cream., frozen custard and gelato. Frozen treats are our weakness. In fact, if you have followed the TRUTH for any amount of time, you will realize I almost always seek out and find the best pizza and ice cream/frozen custard/gelato place in every single vacation destination we visit…ever. We try them all, I just tell you about the best. Gorgeous gelato in Portland Maine is an authentic and delicious gelato destination that offers a large variety of flavors to try.

Did I mention that Portland is a foodie heaven??? So many great food options and lobster to be eaten any way your heart desires.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

READ ALSO: Vacation 101: We’re not the Griswolds but We Play them on Vacation

There was so much to see and do that we definitely did not get to see and do it all in 4 days but I look forward to visiting again soon with my family and exploring some more.  There were so many delicious nooks and crannies, corners to turn and cobblestone roads to explore to this quaint and adorable coastal town. When you are in  Portland Maine, the people are so friendly that you truly feel welcome and relaxed. It’s the perfect place for a summer getaway with your family, your teens or just you and your partner. Portland offers something for everyone.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Have you been to Portland Maine?

Things to do in Portland Maine with kids and teens, Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

What are your favorite things to do in Portland Maine this Summer?

 

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Mompreneur, momtrepeneur, work-from-hom, mom, stay-at-home

If you’ve recently had a baby, work is probably the last thing on your mind. And that’s not just because you’ve… y’know… just had a baby! Parenthood changes you fundamentally. They don’t say it changes “everything” for nothing. The struggle is real. Motherhood literally alters your brain chemistry and definitely realigns your perspective. Suddenly all the things about the world at work that used to worry and intimidate you now seem like no biggie at all.

The truth is motherhood can actually be incredibly empowering and make a woman realize just how strong she really is. It can make you realize that you deserve better than you’ve been getting from your job and career and maybe your talents and passion were wasted in that old job all along. As such, while there are many women who are happy to return to their old jobs and their old career, there are some who set their sights in a very different direction. You know who you are. It takes balls to forge a new way but many moms do just that.

READ ALSO: How Blogging Changed My Life

In the digital age, more and more women are realizing that they have the tools at their disposal to start their very own businesses, nurturing potentially thriving enterprises even as they nurture their little ones. Some of us become professional bloggers or copywriters, others use e-commerce to sell products that they make themselves. I love Etsy. Some moms become consultants while others become freelance illustrators. The sky’s the limit. We are moms hear us roar!

If you want to make your mark as a mompreneur, here are some things you’ll need…

A USP

Unfortunately, if you want to establish yourself in business (no matter what the nature of your business) a good idea just isn’t enough anymore. People start businesses based on good ideas all the time, but it doesn’t automatically guarantee success. In order to find success (and your audience), you’ll need to have a clearly defined Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

Your USP will be what makes you different from all the other businesses out there doing what you’re doing and builds value in the brand you’re trying to develop. Don’t worry if you don’t come up with your USP overnight. Take the time to carry out extensive market research and competitor analysis.

READ ALSO: What Ever Blogger should Know about Blogging

Find the people who will buy your products or invest in your services. See what other businesses like yours are doing well and why customers are happy with them. Then try and identify things that they aren’t doing as well or gaps in the market that they’re currently failing to accommodate.

If you can find a way to do what other businesses are doing better, that’s your USP!

A strong presence on social media

Personality goes a long way in business. This was actually one of the first pieces of advice I was given when I started blogging as the mom of two toddlers. Embarrassingly enough, I had no idea what a “social media presence” was. In my defense, I had been pregnant and having babies for the previous 3 years. But I figured out quickly, people don’t like to buy from faceless, profit-hungry corporations. They like to buy from honest, genuine people who have decided to take their livelihoods and careers into their own hands. These people remind us that the dream works. And supporting them gives us a better form of capitalism.

If people like you, they’ll buy/read/engage with you. Let your personality shine on social media. Find out more about where your target audience spends their time online and approach them on the platforms they use most. Combine your professionalism and commitment to quality with the fact that you’re a real person and mom trying to take care of your target audience in ways that your competitors won’t or can’t.

Maintain an active presence on your social platforms. Engage. Don’t be the person only sharing links. Nobody likes that person. Talk to people about things other than your business. Like what they post. Retweet them. It’s a little thing that goes a long way towards building the kind of personal relationship which is invaluable for small businesses.

A strong brand identity

Your brand is what people say about your business when you’re not in the room. In order for your business to resonate, it needs a strong brand identity. Again, this is what will differentiate you from your competitors and help people to develop a personal relationship and trust you.

You may be reticent to incorporate your motherhood into your brand. I wasn’t. I embraced it. I know who I am. I know my education, my skills and strengths but I also fully embraced that motherhood was a big part of who I am now. Being a mom doesn’t take away from who you were as a career woman before, it adds skills to it. You should see my organization and multipurpose skills now.

You may want people to see you as a businesswoman first, and a mother second, but don’t underestimate the brand appeal of your motherhood. People like Moms. We’re relatable. Everyone has one. People see moms as nurturing, reliable, dependable and compassionate because… that’s exactly what we are.

Online security

The beauty of being an entrepreneur in the (nearly) 2020s is that digital technology has made the world your office. You can check your emails while changing diapers ( though I certainly would not recommend it) and take conference calls in Whole Foods ( been there done that). You can make ecommerce listings sitting in your favorite coffee shop or keep in touch with your social following while breastfeeding.

And while that’s incredible, it can also make you and your business more vulnerable. Businesses of all shapes and sizes have a target painted on their back and cybercriminals may try and target your business and its data if they see a vulnerability. That’s why it’s important to ensure that not only does your laptop have robust antivirus software but all of your devices use a mobile-ready VPN while on the go. Cybersecurity is an important consideration when starting up your own business.

The biggest challenge when juggling your duties as a CEO (because that’s what you are, honey!) with your duties as a mother is time management. Why are there not more hours in the day? As much as possible you need to compartmentalize your time between “entrepreneur mode” and “Mom mode”. This is way easier to do when you have a dedicated working space either in your own home or a rented office. I have a home office but I am loving the new shared spaces available in my town and it may be something I look to soon. Of course, there will be some bleed between the two but the very act of moving into different functional spaces will help you to better organize your thoughts.

A blog

A blog is an extremely important business tool. It is my business. Whatever the nature of your business, it can almost certainly be assisted by having a blog. Remember what we were saying before about the importance of personality? A blog can give your following insight into your personality, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It can also establish your knowledge, expertise and dedication to being the best there is at what you do. And that’s a big deal!

What’s more, your blog will also give you a boost in Search Engine Optimization and improve your visibility in search results.

Passion

Finally, the most important thing you can have as a Mompreneur is passion. Passion will propel you through those days where you’ve had 2 and a half hours’ sleep and it all seems a little too much. It’ll keep you going where others falter and keep building value in your brand that will set you on the path to success.

What is your tip for succeeding as a mompreneur?

 

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women, middle aged women, midlife crisis, an open letter to women everywhere, you deserve better

I’m smack dab in the middle of a life journey back to me. Sounds existential, right? No, it’s not a midlife crisis. I was thrust into a situation where I had to evaluate all of my life choices and make better choices for myself, for my family and for my life but mostly, for MYSELF.

Women, you deserve better.

It’s really pretty simple and it’s more common than not. In fact, I know a lot of women who are also going through this exact same thing. Don’t get me wrong, I know plenty going through a midlife crisis too. I’m just not there yet. I’m sure my time is coming. When it does, I will embrace it.

READ ALSO: The Secret that will Change Everything

The journey I’m talking about is the moment that we find ourselves in a new chapter of motherhood and life. Our kids don’t need us as much as they used to. They’re a little more self-sufficient. We’re a little lonelier. We want to contribute. We want to feel needed. We want to feel purposeful. We want to be seen for who we are and suddenly, we barely recognize ourselves in the mirror.

I don’t recognize the middle-aged woman staring back at me.

She looks like me but tired and grey. She’s missing her spark. Feeling like a childhood lovie; worn, outgrown and left behind.

We realize that we’ve let ourselves fall to the wayside too many times. We’ve lost priority seating in our own life. We can’t even get past the velvet ropes into VIP and we’re the effing bouncer. Gone are the days of taking 2-hours to get ready but we’re done with the ponytail and yoga pants too.

READ ALSO: Best Things about 40

We’ve let ourselves become invisible for so long that we almost can’t see ourselves and if we do, we definitely don’t recognize the person staring back at us. We’ve glimpsed our reflection and we deserve more. We want more. We are no longer satisfied with being a ghost, transparent from the photos of our own lives. The problem is that we need to remember to see ourselves before anyone else can.

I thought I was in this situation by myself but its more common than not.

I had a medical crisis that made me take a hard look at myself with all the lights on, strong fluorescent lights at that. It wasn’t even good lighting. I had a come to Jesus meeting with myself and myself gave it to me straight.

This is all my fault.

No one else did this to me. They just followed suit. I’ve heard so many ladies asking the internet for permission to do for themselves lately that I’m dizzy. Before I would have nodded in agreement but now, I’m saying take it. You deserve it. You deserve all the good things. I’m grateful for me and I’m not taking it for granted anymore.

READ ALSO: Gynecological Misadventures of a Millenial Mom

Suddenly, I realized that if I wanted to be prioritized and treated right by others, then I have to prioritize and treat myself right. Respect yourself and others will too. We show people how to treat us. If we accept being pushed aside and made to wait for what we want, that’s what will happen. If you ask for permission, you run the risk of someone saying no. Do “you” and ask for forgiveness. You won’t need it.

There is no award for martyrdom and our families can’t read our minds. But just like we tell our daughters, “you set the standard of how others will treat you.” We need to believe that it applies to us too. I’ve been drilling it into my daughters’ heads and hearts since birth, all the while contradicting myself in the way I live my own life.

READ ALSO: The Moment I stopped caring what others think of me

That’s where I am today. I’m loving who I am. I’m remembering that I am worth all the love and hard work that I put into everyone else in my life. I deserve good things and I shouldn’t be afraid of failure or not being perfect. Just by doing my best, I am succeeding.

My journey is slow and steady and that’s exactly how I want it to be. Nothing good ever happens overnight and if it did, I wouldn’t trust it anyways. This slow shift is giving me time to get used to who I’m becoming; to live and thrive in my new normal. It’s giving me time to ease into the fact that I am good enough. You are too.

What are you doing for you? Just for you? Are you working out? Are you resting? Sleeping enough? Eating right? Are you forgiving yourself? Do you believe in yourself? Are you going for your dreams? Trying new things? Taking vacations? Being kind to your heart? Living out loud? Are you loving the life you live? If not, stop what you’re doing right now. Change it. It’s that simple. Make up your mind to change the narrative.

 

 

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How to keep your children safe online from toddler to teen, online safety

Children and teens love being online. The older they get, the more they love it. Whether it’s watching videos on YouTube, playing Fortnite or interacting with friends from school on SnapChat and Instagram, our kids spend a lot of time online. The thing is, do we really know who they’re hanging out within the online world? We can’t even be sure that we know who we’re dealing with in this world of online personas and filters. Is anyone who they seem to be? I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to keep my children safe online from the toddler age through to their teens.

Maybe it would be easier if our kids were just playing outside. But that’s not the real world. It’s only part of it and our kids need to learn how to navigate safely through the digital world. It’s not like when we were kids. There’s a whole online world connecting our children to people all over the world. All the hoping and wishing is not going to unring that bell.

READ ALSO: Online Persona who’s real and who isn’t? How to know the difference.

There may be those that argue that digital technology makes children unhealthy from the lack of fresh air and physical activity. People will tell you that this generation of kids will be awkward and develop poor social skills but I think that’s an alarmist attitude. Our children need to have their bearings in both worlds because currently, the future is living in one and experiencing life in the other.

There are solid arguments in defense of having exposure to technology from a young age. Many games involve complex problems that need solving. Schools use online classrooms and apps to teach our kids. These same games can improve hand-eye coordination and children learn very quickly how to use technology in great depth, in a very natural and intuitive way.

A bigger concern though is how safe our children are online. With access to so much, often unrestricted content, how do we know that our children are not going to come into contact with things that they’re not old enough to deal with? We have parental controls on our daughters’ computers and phones. They are only allowed the apps we give them permission to use and we check often. But even the most vigilant parent can’t be everywhere all the time. We need to teach our children, from an early age, how to be safe and smart online.

READ ALSO: How to keep your family safe online

The other aspect of this is also a concern over who they might come into contact with. There is always a worry with social media or games that have chat functions, that children may come into contact with strangers who prey on the young. My biggest fear is a pedophile posing as another child, gaining my daughters’ trust and violating them in some way.

So how do we deal with this challenge? Nobody wants to cut their children off entirely from enjoying something they love, and with technology being a bigger and bigger part of our lives, the children of today will have even more of a relationship with technology.  As parents, we have to keep them informed, tech-savvy and safe by doing a few simple things.

Take An Interest In What Your Child Is Doing Online

Make online activities a family experience where you can. Get involved with their gaming, and spend time understanding what they’re doing when they are online. My girls only game online when their dad is playing with them. Keeping a healthy, positive interest will mean that your children will be less likely to hide activity from you. If you know the games, they’re playing, and the sites that they’re visiting, you’ll have a better idea of what any specific risks are. This will help you put things in place to minimize these risks.

Teach your children about passwords by sitting with them when they sign up to their first sites. Make sure they learn early on how important passwords are, and that they should use different passwords on different websites and use a healthy mix of letters (upper and lowercase), numbers and special characters.

Having Straight, Honest Conversations

Be honest with your children about the dangers of strangers online, and the kind of content on there, but try not to scare them too much. They do have to live and work online. Encourage them to be cautious. Encourage your children to talk to you about anything that they see so that if something ever happens, they go to you immediately.

Parental Controls

Make sure you know how to access any master parental controls from your home router, as well on every device your children might have access to. This is so important. Find out about the best apps and devices for monitoring your kids safe online activity. Make sure that these are installed and working.

“Friend” Your Children

If your children are using social media, befriend or follow them online. Your children need to learn that anything they post online has the potential to be viewed by anyone and that once it’s posted, even if it gets deleted, it could come back and cause them damage. I taught my girls from the beginning to not post anything that they wouldn’t want their grandpa seeing. I’ve also shown them how screenshot works and the reality that nothing is temporary on the internet. The Internet is forever.

How to keep your children safe online from toddler to teen, online safetyThese are just a few tips for keeping your children safe online. What’s your best tip?

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Netflix,Stranger Things, Eleven, Will Byers, Mike, Max, Stranger Things 3, Stranger Things Cast, millie bobby brown

Hope you all had a Happy Stranger Things 3 Fourth of July! Wait, you didn’t spend yesterday binging Netflix’s Stranger Things Season 3??? I have a tween and a teen girl so, forget the fireworks, we were glued to all the action happening in Hawkins and in awe of the kids in the Stranger Things cast. They are all so grown up.

READ ALSO: The TRUTH about Parenting Teens

I have a special place in my heart for Stranger Things because it not only reminds me of my youth, but my girls are around the same age as the kids in the show. I’m living Stranger Things. This Netflix binge is something the girls and I laugh, cry and bond over. Remember the Stranger Things 13th Birthday party we threw for Bella? Still one of my favorites.

Stranger Things 3: It’s 1985 in Hawkins, Indiana, and summer’s heating up. School’s out, there’s a brand new mall in town, and the Hawkins crew are on the cusp of adulthood. Romance blossoms and complicates the group’s dynamic, and they’ll have to figure out how to grow up without growing apart. Meanwhile, danger looms. When the town’s threatened by enemies old and new, Eleven and her friends are reminded that evil never ends; it evolves. Now, they’ll have to band together to survive and remember that friendship is always stronger than fear.

11 Reasons Why You Should Binge Stranger Things 3 Today

Netflix, Stranger Things, Eleven, Will Byers, Mike, Max, Stranger Things 3, Stranger Things Cast, millie bobby brown1. Big Kids, Big Problems

The kids are older and behave so. People have coupled up and the storylines are relatable not only to your tweens/teens going through the same thing but for the parents having to navigate the murky waters of first loves too. Someone met a girl at camp. I adore the bromance between Steve and Dustin. If the Eleven and Hopper relationship evolution in Stranger Things 3 doesn’t make you cry, you are dead inside.

2. Girls Rule, Boys Drool

Steve is fulfilling his destiny and winning for the first time ever. Steve might actually win a fight and, no spoilers, but a lesson in humility and an open mind might make him a better person. Mike and Lucas learn a few things about how to treat a girl, the hard way.

Hopper. Joyce, Netflix, Stranger Things, Eleven, Will Byers, Mike, Max, Stranger Things 3, Stranger Things Cast, millie bobby brown

3. Adulting, it’s complicated

Hopper and Joyce…Jopper? Does anyone need a love story more than these two? Also, a steamy near affair Mrs. Robinson style. Not going to tell you who but you might not be surprised.   

4. The 80’s nostalgia will bring all the feelings of childhood back.

If you were alive in the ’80s or love 80’s movies be prepared to have flashbacks to every 80’s movie you’ve ever seen, in the best possible way. Be prepared for your kids to ask for all the 80’s styles that you rocked back in the day. FYI, they are available now at Hot Topic. Of course, they are.

5. There are far worse things than demogorgons…like way worse.

I thought the Demogorgon and Demodogs were disgusting but there is something much scarier and Stranger Things 3 brings it to you courtesy of all the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana.

Netflix Stranger Things, Eleven, Will Byers, Mike, Max, Stranger Things 3, Stranger Things Cast, millie bobby brown

6. There is a healthy dose of girl power.  

Girls rule Hawkins from powerful Eleven to sassy Max, no B.S. Joyce to Suzy in Utah. The girls of Hawkins are tough cookies and even Nancy is giving the Wonder Woman pose this season. Go, Girls. Your girls will walk away from this season feeling empowered and elevated.

7. The Cold War is now.

You think the Russian interference now is scary, wait until you get a load of the Stranger Things 3 Russians. Nyet, thank you!

8. Something terrible happens to someone you love to hate.

We get the backstory on one of our favorite characters that we love to hate. We find out they’ve had it rough and just need a break. Self-sacrifice will leave you in deep need of Kleenex.

9. First LGBTQ character introduced in Hawkins.

It happened fast but we are pretty sure that one of the Hawkins kids is out. The best thing about it was that it was a no big deal moment. For the ’80s, that was everything. Bravo Stranger Things 3 cast and writers for keeping it 100. Never doubt that Hawkins is woke.

10. Life in Hawkins, Indiana will never be the same again.

A major character dies. I can’t tell you who because I’m not a jerk but have.all.the.Kleenex. I was ready to riot. Let’s just leave it at that. If it turns out to be real next season, I still might. I will tell you that if this character actually died, Hawkins will never be the same again. Also, there is a major shift and our gang gets separated.

11. Watch to the very end of the credits for a super plot twist.

PLEASE WATCH THROUGH THE CREDITS!! If you don’t you are going to miss a major clue for next season and you will spend the next year crying over the state of our favorite characters’ existence. The ending is hopeful.

Hopper, Joyce, Netflix, Stranger Things, Eleven, Will Byers, Mike, Max, Stranger Things 3, Stranger Things Cast, millie bobby brown

READ ALSO: Parent Guide to Teen Slang

That’s all the non-spolier reasons that I can give you to binge Stranger Things 3 today! Now, I’m off to plan our Stranger Things 3 Halloween costumes. I mean, the Fourth of July has passed so basically, it’s time for pumpkin lattes, right?

Netflix, Stranger Things, Eleven, Will Byers, Mike, Max, Stranger Things 3, Stranger Things Cast, millie bobby brownI am obsessed and we’re about to re-binge the entire series tomorrow.

If you already binged Netflix’s Stranger Things 3, let’s discuss in the comments.

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weight loss, lose weight fast, loose skin, thighgina, weight loss problems, how to lose weight fast, weight loss, how to lose 100 pounds

Want to lose weight fast? Don’t we all. I’ve been wanting to lose 100 pounds for years but I never did it. But, not because it was impossible but because I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to commit to all the things I needed to do to lose the weight. It’s not hard to lose 100 pounds, but it is a lot of work. A lot of work and it won’t happen overnight. If it does, you may want to go see your doctor because something is probably wrong.

READ ALSO: The Burden of Being a Fat Woman

To lose weight, you need to make up your mind, seriously, that you are ready to lose the weight. You need to go into it knowing that it will take time. It will require sacrifice. It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change. You will have to dedicate yourself to pursuing this for as long as it takes, maybe forever.

The good news is that you can unlearn bad habits and form new habits in about 3 weeks time. 3 weeks is a long time when you are adjusting to reducing carbs and calories. 3 weeks is a long time when you are just starting to move and work out but it’s only 3 weeks.

How to lose weight without feeling like you’re being punished.

After 3 weeks, moving will become a habit. Believe it or not, you will begin to crave it and even enjoy it. You’ll look forward to your morning walk or workout. I promise you will. Your body will adjust to your new way of eating. The bad foods will stop tasting as good and the good foods will start to taste better. You will learn to live in your new normal. You will find that after 3 weeks, it doesn’t feel restrictive. This is a lifestyle change so everything in moderation. Don’t put anything off limits or your mind will want it more.

What am I doing to lose weight aside from changing how I eat?

I am developing a healthy relationship with food for the first time, honestly, in my entire life. Food is fuel.

Am I still a foodie? Yes, you can be a foodie without being a glutton. I eat everything in moderation and a weigh and measure before it goes in my mouth. No more mindless eating. No more stress or comfort eating. I’m having to face my issues. It is hard. No more asking for forgiveness. It’s all about permission now and allowing myself to be human.

I’m eating fewer carbs and less sugar, and eating more vegetables and whole foods. That’s it.

READ ALSO: How a Doctor’s Visit Saved My Life

I’m moving.

Moving doesn’t need to mean going to the gym or getting a Peloton, even though I still want one of those. For me, it means alternating between CIZE by Beachbody ( I started with the 30-minute video and just upped to the 45-minute one) and the BBG app. It can mean just walking.I’m still pretty overweight and out of shape so BBG is hard for me so I modify and on some days, I even do the postpartum workout because it’s what I can do. In the past few weeks, I’ve also added walking 45 minutes a day (when it’s not raining out.) The point is that I am making a conscious choice to move and more importantly, I’m making the time and not excuses. Excuses are what got me here in the first place.

how to lose weight fast, weight loss, how to lose 100 pounds

Forgiving myself for not being perfect.

I am a human. I am taking one day at a time. Losing this kind of weight and fighting for your life is not a sprint, it’s a long ass cross country race and it takes time. There will be slip ups and plateaus. But with the one day at a time mentality, one foot in front of the other, it’s just one moment of my journey and that one slip up does not define me. Neither does the size of my pants.

Loving myself.

I never thought I could truly love myself. As I said, I am a perfectionist with control issues. I am my harshest critic. I love big and fearlessly when it comes to others but I’ve never been able to look at myself that way. I’m learning to love me. I’m prioritizing me. I am as important as the people I love. I’m beginning to see the good in me. The gifts that I offer the world.

READ ALSO: Sugar is a drug and I was an addict.

Letting others be there for me.

This is another thing that has always been hard for me. I love being people’s rock but I hate hinging my happiness on others so I never do. I’m always afraid they will fail me. But after 20 years of marriage to the Big Guy, he has always been there for me. I always say that he saved my life when we met because that’s when I stopped the anorexia. Well, he’s doing it again. He’s all in and so are my girls and my friends and family. I have received so much love, encouragement and support from so many of you. It means everything to me. You all inspire me.

This is how you lose 100 pounds.

Well, actually the end goal is 111 pounds. It’s not about starving yourself. It’s about loving yourself, forgiving yourself and prioritizing yourself enough to take the time, have the patience and put in the effort to get healthy.

To be honest, the end goal is not even a number on the scale for me. The end goal is being completely healthy and on no medication. The goal is to live as long as I can to see my girls grow up, my grandchildren be born and grow up and get married. The goal is to be happy, love myself as unconditionally as I love my family and to feel good in my own skin; to be around to see as many sunsets with my husband as life will allow.

What are you doing to take care of you?

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Dumbo, Disney Entertainment, Disney's Dumbo

I’m so excited to share with you Tim Burton’s all-new visionary live-action DUMBO that is available everywhere on June 25th!  Fall in love again with this heartfelt story when it swoops into homes on Digital in HD and 4K Ultra HD and Movies Anywhere, and physically on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD – with never-before-seen bonus features, deleted scenes, bloopers and more!

 READ ALSO: Disney’s the Lion King

“Dumbo,” the grand live-action adventure from Disney and visionary director Tim Burton expanded on the beloved animated classic and sent spirits soaring. Disney invites fans to fall in love again with this heartfelt story, in which differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight, when it swoops into homes on Digital in HD and 4K Ultra HD™ and Movies Anywhere, and physically on 4K Ultra HD,  Blu-ray™ and DVD — with never-before-seen bonus features, deleted scenes, Easter eggs and bloopers.

Dumbo, Disney Entertainment, Disney's Dumbo

Stunning extras will transport viewers to the set of “Dumbo,” where cast members Danny DeVito (circus owner Max Medici), Michael Keaton (opportunistic businessman V.A. Vandevere), Colin Farrell (war-veteran-turned-elephant-keeper Holt Farrier), Eva Green (stunning aerialist Colette Marchant), Nico Parker (Farrier’s daughter, Milly) and Finley Hobbins (Farrier’s son, Joe) share their personal stories of courage and character.

READ ALSO: Why I Loved Disney’s Aladdin Live-Action more than the Original

Features explore how Disney’s timeless animated story was brought to life with an incredibly expressive, lovable, fully computer-generated baby elephant; the longtime collaboration of Burton, production designer Rick Heinrichs and costume designer Colleen Atwood, which resulted in jaw-dropping sets and costumes; and the creation of the visually colossal Dreamland parade sequence. Also included are nine deleted scenes, hidden and not-so-hidden Easter eggs, bloopers and a special performance of “Baby Mine” by Arcade Fire.

Dumbo, Disney Entertainment, Disney's Dumbo

In “Dumbo,” struggling circus owner Max Medici enlists former star Holt Farrier and his children to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive but sinister entrepreneur V.A.Vandevere, who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, spectacular, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland.

READ ALSO: Toy Story 4 Reveals the Meaning of Life

“Dumbo” will be released in several different formats, giving families the flexibility to watch it on a variety of devices. Viewers can watch the film in Digital 4K UHD, HD and SD, and bring home a physical copy of the film as the 4K Ultra HD Edition (4K UHD, Blu-ray and Digital Code), Multi-Screen Edition (Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Code) and a single DVD.

Bonus features include*:
BLU-RAY & DIGITAL HD:

  • CIRCUS SPECTACULARS: Dumbo’s cast shares their experience of making the film—and get to the heart of a story about family and believing in yourself.
  • THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: Explore how one of Disney’s most lovable characters went from an animated classic to a stunning live-action retelling.
  • BUILT TO AMAZE: Get a closer look at the film’s production and costume design.
  • DELETED SCENES: A compelling collection of scenes that almost made the final film.
    • Roustabout Rufus
    • Pachyderm Plans
    • The Other Medici Brother
    • Monkey Business
    • A Star Is Born
    • Where’s Dumbo
    • Elephant Heist
    • A Seat at the Show
  • EASTER EGGS ON PARADE: Discover the hidden and not-so-hidden nods to the animated Dumboin this narrated tribute to the Disney classic.
  • CLOWNING AROUND: Laugh along with the cast in a collection of big-top bloopers and goofs from the set.
  • “BABY MINE”: Visual video performed by Arcade Fire

Dumbo, Disney Entertainment, Disney's DumboDIGITAL EXCLUSIVE:

  • DREAMLAND – ANATOMY OF A SCENE: From Final Script to Final Scene: The filmmakers and cast talk a lot about the feeling of “grand intimacy” in the film.  Step right up as they bring the Dreamland parade to life, accomplishing the rare marriage of a massive spectacle combined with an emotional tenderness.
  • 4K Ultra HD: English Dolby Atmos and 2.0 Descriptive Audio; Spanish and French 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus Language Tracks
  • Blu-ray: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA and 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks
  • DVD: English, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio Language Tracks
  • UHD Digital: English Dolby Atmos (some platforms); English, Spanish and French 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital; English Descriptive Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital (some platforms)
  • HD Digital: English, Spanish and French 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital; English Descriptive Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital (some platforms)
  • SD Digital: English, Spanish and French 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital; English Descriptive Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital (some platforms)

Dumbo, Disney Entertainment, Disney's Dumbo 

DUMBO” CAST AND CREW: 
The film stars Golden Globe® winner Colin Farrell (“In Bruges,” “The Lobster”) as war-veteran turned elephant-keeper Holt Farrier, Golden Globe winner Michael Keaton (“Birdman,” “Beetlejuice”) as opportunistic businessman V.A. Vandevere, Emmy® and Golden Globe winner Danny DeVito (“Batman Returns,” “Big Fish”) as circus owner Max Medici, and BAFTA Award winner and Golden Globe nominee Eva Green (“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” “Dark Shadows”) as stunning aerialist Colette Marchant. Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins make their feature film debuts as Holt’s children, Milly and Joe.

Here is a fun origami activity to do with your children in celebration of the release of Disney’s Dumbo.

Like DUMBO on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyDumbo/

Follow DUMBO on Twitter: https://twitter.com/dumbo

Follow DUMBO on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dumbo/

Visit the official DUMBO website here: https://disney.com/dumbo

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Duke Caboom, Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep, GabyGaby, Toy Story 4, Meaning of Life, Love, Forky

I thought Toy Story 3 was the best wrap up of a series as there ever was. However, I was proven wrong last night. Toy Story 4 takes us parents on a ride and sees it through to the end and this mom is all in her feels. Where’s Drake when I need him?

Toy Story 4 Basic Synopsis:

Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) has always been confident about his place in the world, and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that’s Andy or Bonnie. So, when Bonnie’s beloved new craft-project-turned-toy, Forky (voice of Tony Hale), declares himself as “trash” and not a toy, Woody takes it upon himself to show Forky why he should embrace being a toy.

READ ALSO: What is Disney Creator Days and How Can I Get Invited?

But when Bonnie takes the whole gang on her family’s road trip excursion, Woody ends up on an unexpected detour that includes a reunion with his long-lost friend Bo Peep (voice of Annie Potts). After years of being on her own, Bo’s adventurous spirit and life on the road belie her delicate porcelain exterior. As Woody and Bo realize they’re worlds apart when it comes to life as a toy, they soon come to find that’s the least of their worries. Directed by Josh Cooley (“Riley’s First Date?”), and produced by Mark Nielsen (associate producer “Inside Out”) and Jonas Rivera (“Inside Out,” “Up”)

Duke Caboom, Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep, GabyGaby, Toy Story 4, Meaning of Life, Love, Forky, Ducky and Bunny

©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Parenting is a thankless job of loving and living for other people. People we created and have made the very reason for our existence. There is nothing more fulfilling or joyous than being given the gift of loving someone so completely and unconditionally. We are in those years, blinded by that love.

But one day, they will grow up. They will move on, as they are supposed to. They will have lives, families and children of their own and as much as we want to hold on tighter and forever, we have to let them go. And it hurts so much. Too much. But that’s the job; raise good human beings and then set them free to go forth and make the world a better place…no matter how much it breaks your heart.

READ ALSO: Everything You Need to Know about the Disney Dream Cruise

But something unexpected happens, when your little birds fly away and you are left in your empty nest, you have time for you again. Time to live for you. Time to pursue what makes YOU happy. Time to love your partner. Go ahead, you deserve it. Just like Woody deserved to find his Bo Peep. He did his job. He loved Andy and Bonnie with everything that he was. He sacrificed. He selflessly served them as long as they needed him and only when they no longer did, did he let go and even then it was begrudgingly.

Duke Caboom, Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep, GabyGaby, Toy Story 4, Meaning of Life, Love, Forky

©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

As parents, it is our mission to love our children. Sometimes it feels like our sole purpose and we are happy to have it. But, like Woody, we’ve got to let go of the past and live in the present. Look toward the future. We deserve to be happy. We deserve to be loved the way we loved our children. We deserve that.

READ ALSO: Disney’s the Lion King

Where, then, does Woody stand? In the movie’s scheme of things, he stands for all of us who feel we’ve lost our purpose in one phase of our life and haven’t yet found the courage to start the next phase. Toy Story 4 is all about transitioning to the next phase for everyone one of us. We are constantly evolving.

What Woody comes to understand, ever so slowly, is that life is not only for living but for loving, and he and Bo have found each other. As Woody struggles to resolve his fears and feelings, “Toy Story 4” transcends toydom. It feels exquisitely alive.

Duke Caboom, Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep, GabyGaby, Toy Story 4, Meaning of Life, Love, Forky

©2019 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

It boils down to this, in the end, our quality of life is weighed and measured in love; the love we give gives us meaning and the love we receive gives us purpose.

Toy Story 4 teaching us lessons we didn’t even know we needed to learn.

Whether it’s romantic love, familial love, parental love, friendship or mutual respect, love is the true meaning of life and without it, the quality of our lives is drastically reduced if not removed. At the basis of humanity, we need to love one another. The love we give is reflected back in the joy we feel.

Duke Caboom, Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep, GabyGaby, Toy Story 4, Meaning of Life, Love, Forky

©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

In Toy Story 4, we’re shown all different types of love and its value is quantified from an outside perspective and suddenly, it all makes sense… love is the meaning of life. Giving and receiving.

READ ALSO: I Loved Aladdin Live-Action More than the Original

In the end, they all chose to love and let themselves be loved. The thing is that kind of vulnerability is terrifying. Putting yourself out there and allowing yourself to become part of something bigger than just yourself, allowing someone else to be a part of the equation to determine whether or not you are happy and fulfilled is risky but so worth it because the only way to experience life fully is with love and the only way to love is completely.

Duke Caboom, Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep, GabyGaby, Toy Story 4, Meaning of Life, Love, Forky

©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

In the end, Andy grew up and Bonnie gave her love to Forky but Woody finally got to be part of something for him, he got to be loved in return and that’s something. He got to start a new adventure in life as part of a couple. His friends loved him so much that they let him go follow his bliss with Bo Peep, the same way Bo Peep put her feeling for him on a shelf and left him behind when she knew he had to stay with Andy. That’s what love is about, taking someone else’s needs and wants into consideration.

In Toy Story 4, Woody finally got to choose to love and be loved in return and there’s nothing better in this life. Sometimes love means letting go, sometimes it means jumping in with both feet and taking a chance and sometimes it means holding on for dear life. Toy story 4 taught me that.

Duke Caboom, Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep, GabyGaby, Toy Story 4, Meaning of Life, Love, Forky, Ducky and Bunny

Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 4 in theaters June 21st. Now playing. Giving me the meaning of life.

What was your biggest takeaway from Toy Story 4?

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